The 2015 Cat Writers’ Calendar for the Special Days, Weeks, and Months Devoted to Feline Care and Awareness

2015 calendar
Once again the New Year is upon us and once again there are numerous special days, weeks, and months devoted to promoting causes and awareness for our feline friends. To follow, you will find all the pertinent dates for 2015 – please take a moment to look them over and bookmark the site for reference purposes. Whether radio, blogs, columns, websites, magazines, art, photographs, or more, we all have the voice and talent to highlight these causes to help educate so that we can continue to make the world a better place for the safety, health, happiness, and well-being of cats.


Please be aware that this calendar is subject to change. To advise of corrections or additions, please leave a comment.

Walk Your Pet Month (for those that partake in leashes, harnesses, and strollers).
January 2: National Pet Travel Safety Day.
January 22: National Answer Your Cat’s Question Day.
January 24: Change a Pet’s Life Day.

American Heart Month.
National Spay/Neuter Month (HSUS).
National Prevent a Litter Month.
Pet Dental Health Month (AVMA).
Responsible Pet Owners Month.
February 14: Pet Theft Awareness Day (Last Chance for Animals).
February 15 – 21: National Justice for Animals Week.
February 20: Love Your Pet Day.
February 24: World Spay Day (Humane Society International and The Humane Society of the United States – held the last Tuesday of February).

Poison Prevention Awareness Month.
March 1 – 7: Professional Pet Sitters Week.
March 2 – 8: National Severe Weather Preparedness Week.
March 15 – 21: National Poison Prevention Week.
March 16 – 22: National Flood Safety Awareness Week.
March 23 – 29: National Tsunami Awareness Week.

Animal Cruelty Prevention Month (ASPCA).
National Heartworm Awareness Month (American Heartworm Society).
National Pet First Aid Awareness Month (Created by the American Red Cross to draw attention to the need to know specialized pet first aid).
April 9: FIP Awareness (Mr. Swanson’s Day).
April 11: National Pet Day.
April 12 – 18: National Volunteer Week.
April 12 – 18: National Animal Control Appreciation Week.
Third week in April: Animal Cruelty/Human Violence Awareness Week (HSUS).
Third full week of April starting with a Sunday: National Pet ID Week.
April 18: Pet Owners Independence Day.
April 22: Earth Day.
April 24: Hairball Awareness Day.
April 25: World Veterinary Day (World Veterinary Association).
April 26: National Kids & Pets Day
April 30: National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day.

National Pet Month.
Responsible Animal Guardian Month.
Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month.
Pet Cancer Awareness Month (Sponsored by Pet Cancer Awareness and the Blue Buffalo Foundation for Cancer Research).
Chip Your Pet Month (Home Again Pet ID).
May 3: National Specially-abled Pets Day.
May 3 – 9: Be Kind to Animals Week (AHA).
May 3-9: National Pet Week (AVMA).
May 9: Animal Disaster Preparedness Day.
May 15: Endangered Species Day.
May 23: National Heat Awareness Day.
May 25 – 31: National Hurricane Preparedness Week.
May 27: Free Feral Cat Spay Day (Alley Cat Rescue).

National Pet Preparedness Month (Timed for the first month of hurricane season).
Adopt-a-Shelter Cat Month (ASPCA).
Adopt-a-Cat Month (AHA).
First week in June: Pet Appreciation Week.
June 4: International Hug Your Cat Day.
June 14: World Pet Memorial Day.
Mid-June: Animal Rights Awareness Week.
June 22 – 28: National Lightning Safety Awareness Week.

July 4: While not a feline recognized holiday, please keep in mind that our cats (and all pets) can become highly traumatized during the 4th of July festivities. Keep your pet safely indoors and recognize the fact that they can panic or hide from the sounds that fireworks cause.
July 15: Pet Fire Safety Day.
July 21: National Craft for Your Local Shelters Day.

National Immunization Awareness Month.
August 15: Check the Chip Day.
August 20: National Homeless Animal Day (International Society for Animal Rights).
August 17: National Black Cat Appreciation Day.
August 22: National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day.
August 30: National Holistic Pet Day.

Catalyst Council’s Happy Healthy Cat Month.
National Disaster Preparedness Month (Led by FEMA’s ReadyCampaign, Citizen Corps and The Advertising Council, this effort encourages individuals, families, businesses and communities to work together and take action to prepare for disaster emergencies).
National Food Safety Awareness Month.
September 13: Pet Birth Defect Awareness Day (MBJungle Foundation).
September 14: National Pet Memorial Day (International Association of Pet Cemeteries).
September 19: International “Talk Like a Pirate Day” (not a cause, but somehow cat bloggers love this day!)
September 24: Remember Me Thursday (Helen Woodward Animal Center).
Sept. 28: World Rabies Day (Global Alliance for Rabies Control).
Last full week in September: Deaf Pet Awareness Week (

National Animal Safety and Protection Month (Emergency Animal Rescue Service).
National Pet Wellness Month.
October 4: World Animal Day.
First full week of October: Animal Welfare Week (AVMA).
October 14: National Pet Obesity Day.
October 11 – 17: National Veterinary Technician Week.
October 16: National Feral Cat Day (Alley Cat Allies).
October 29: National Cat Day.

National Pet Awareness Month.
Adopt a Senior Pet Month (ASPCA).
Pet Cancer Awareness Month.
Pet Diabetes Month.
First full week of November: National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week (HSUS).
November 17: National Black Cat Day.

No recognized awareness days in December, but this is a good time to share information on preventative safety measures for our cats during the holidays because many of the foods, plants, and decorations that are part of our festivities can be dangerous or even lethal to them.


About the Author:

Deborah Barnes is the author of The Chronicles of Zee & Zoey – A Journey of the Extraordinarily Ordinary starring her feline family as well as the award winning blog, Zee & Zoey’s Chronicle Connection that covers the everyday journey she shares with her cats as well as topics from the humorous behaviors of cats to very serious subjects on pet responsibility. She was bestowed the Friskies Writer of the Year Award in 2013 and her current circle of works has brought her to where she is today – a contributing writer for and Cat Fancy Magazine as well as Secretary of the nonprofit, Pawsitively Humane, Inc. of Miami, Florida, whose mission is to create public awareness and reduce the numbers of animals on the streets and in shelters through an extensive educational campaign.


Photography 101 – Top Ten Tips for Taking Great Pictures of Your Cat!

With technology allowing us to capture moments in time as they happen, writers have come to rely more and more on using photos to complement their storytelling. This is especially true for those of us that write about cats – many of us have blogs or websites that demand a visual presence alongside the written word and with books being published online as well, the need for good photos is even more important. But how to take a stunning photo? Not all writers are gifted photographers and while cats make a glorious subject, taking a good picture of them can be easier said than done. It’s nearly impossible to tell a cat what to do, which typically results in a blurry picture of a cat with demonic red eyes if you don’t know what you’re doing with your camera and your cat.

I happen to be very blessed – the man I am engaged to is a brilliant photographer and he has a particularly sensitive eye when it comes to taking pictures of our cats. As a result, I have a fantastic gallery of photos to choose from when I blog and I have even taken a handful of good photos of my cats myself, learning from his tried and true photography techniques. But, not everyone at the Cat Writers’ Association has a live-in photographer like I do and since I know we all love beautiful cat photos, he has graciously agreed to share his Top Ten Tips for taking purr-fect cat photos with all of us!

1. Develop Rapport
Your cat, unlike humans, does not understand what you are trying to do and won’t just pose for pictures. After a bit of petting and some mild play-time, your cat will be more relaxed and ready for his cameo.

2. Be Patient
Photographing felines requires a lot of patience. If you’re rushed, your cat will detect your anxiety. After a while, the novelty of the camera will wear off and your cat will be more relaxed and reveal his true self.

3. Getting Down to Their Level
Keeping your cat comfortable and at ease is very important, so rather than forcing him to come to you, go to him. Get down to his level and shoot from the floor or at your cat’s eye level or just below.

4. Use Natural Light
If indoors, avoid shooting with flash as the burst of light will not only cause red-eye, but may also frighten your cat.Always try to use natural light when taking your cat’s photograph as the light is more natural and flattering. Light coming in through a window can produce a soft and pleasing appearance.

5. The Golden Hour
If you are taking photographs of your cat outside, the ideal time is in the first or last hour of sunlight, otherwise the light may be too harsh. Hollywood film makers call this the ‘Golden Hour’ as the light is more horizontal in direction and golden in color. Overcast days will produce nice even lighting with very subtle shadows.

6. Capture Character
A successful image is one that conveys the character of its subject, so if you have a playful cat photograph him in action, or if you have a lazy cat, photograph him relaxing on a window sill but be sure to capture him with his eyes open. Remember, your cat is a beautiful and graceful animal and you want to capture images of your cat being a cat.

7. Keep the Eyes Sharp
Be sure to focus on your cat’s eyes and keep them sharp. As they say, the eyes are the windows to the soul, so having ‘tac-sharp’ eyes (in focus and razor sharp) is important.

8. The Element of Surprise
It is very difficult to get your cat to hold still and look into the camera. Allow your cat to settle into its environment while you compose your shot. Then when you are ready, either whistle or use a squeaky toy held near the lens to get them to look in the direction of the lens. This will provide you with a few seconds to capture him in an alert posture.

9. Get in Close and Use Simple Backgrounds
Get in close and fill as much of the frame as possible with your cat. Also, by keeping your background simple and uncluttered, attention will naturally be drawn directly to your pet and produce a pleasing image.

10. Take Lots of Images, Study & Practice
In today’s digital age, there are not costs for film, so do what professionals photographers do – take lots of images. Most pro’s get two great images for every hundred or so that they shoot, so practice and experiment. Study cat photos that you like, look at the lighting and the positioning of the cat, and then try to replicate what the photographer has done.

Photo credit – Thank you to my fiance, Dan Power, for not only sharing his great photography tips, but for providing me with the stunning image of my cat, Zoey, for the post header. 

The Cat Writers’ Association Faces New Changes and Challenges in the Communications Environment of Today

Deb-BarnesLike it or not, our world is in a constant flux of change and this is a fact that is especially relevant to those of us who are members of the Cat Writers’ Association. The days of newspapers, film developing, hard cover books, and typewriters are virtually gone. Magazines are becoming thinner, often nothing but a billboard for ads, and journalism has been reduced to an instant, touch of the button world from the eyes of Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and the like.

Many of us are of the in-between age where we have a love-hate relationship with this new world. We mourn the demise of the print world and hard hitting journalism, but we also realize that the technology of our computers and iPhones gives us a vast audience that we might not otherwise ever reach. For those in the field of cat rescue and advocacy, for example, we are able to distribute a wealth of information on the benefits of spay/neuter via videos, pictures, or written information – all in the click of a button. The likes of Grumpy Cat have become Internet sensations and while that might not appear to be journalism, the point is, social technology has brought cats to a mind boggling level of recognition.

I bring this all up because as our annual Cat Writers’ Contest comes up, the rules, categories, and submission requirements have to be re-examined to reflect the current times. The contest committee is doing their best to put together a compilation of fair-minded rules to reflect this new world in which print copy is being rapidly replaced by such entities as blogs, websites, and online magazines, but it is not easy. We are all caught in that vortex of trying to understand a new playing field that some of us are more familiar with than others while living in an old world that we do not want to entirely give up.

The bottom line is that regardless of our personal feelings or how little or how much we know about the new commutations environment, change will keep on happening and it doesn’t wait for us to catch up. We just have to make our own choice as to how we handle that. We can either embrace change – some of us taking the bull by the horns and defining the path, or we can adapt to it to whatever degree we are most comfortable with, or we can reject it entirely and live in a world that will eventually become obsolete as we know it.

It all reminds me of years ago when my Great-Great Grandmother saw television for the first time. I was in my pajamas in front of the TV and she was horrified because she was certain the people on the screen could see me. That is how I felt with Facebook – I didn’t like the concept – I found it invasive and I fought it tooth and nail until one day I decided to take the plunge and as a result I have enriched my life with people, friends, and information to a level I never thought possible.

But I am still not quite there – for me, nothing is better than the old-fashioned touch and feel of a real book in my hands and I have yet to buy a Kindle or Nook. But I am also in the throes of writing another book – unlike the first one I wrote that I stubbornly refused to offer as an e-book, this one I will… Nothing like the practicality of sales and readership to get a girl to jump on the bandwagon of change…

Cats as Muses for the New Year & New Possibilities

DebRolzThere is no doubt with the onset of a New Year that it is an opportunity for new possibilities and personal rejuvenation. As members of the Cat Writers’ Association it gives us time to reflect on new projects that we may finally feel ready to pursue, such as starting a blog that has been an idea in the back of our mind, or perhaps it is an oath to follow through on an old project that got put to the side for whatever reason.

For many of us, last year was difficult and waking up with a renewed attitude can be an easier said than done mindset. Life is far from ideal and the best laid plans or intentions have a tendency to derail along the way. As a result of that, we often allow our fears, failures, insecurities, and current circumstances to hold us back from taking that leap of faith to starting new beginnings. In those instances, we need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and learn from those we love and admire on a daily basis – our cats.

It’s true. How many times have you seen a cat jump to the top of something that seemed impossibly high? Often they do it in one swift, single leap. But if they can’t make it, they either try again, or they find another way to get up there. The point is, they don’t give up and they take the battles and obstacles in front of them as challenges to overcome.

This thought process works across the board for all of us who work for the well-being of cats through whatever communication method and it applies whether you have been a member of the Cat Writers’ Association for years, or have just joined, or are thinking of joining. For all of us, rather than focusing on what we don’t have or what we think we can’t do, insurmountable issues in our mind, if we decided to adapt to circumstances rather than let them define or defeat us, those adaptations become victories, no matter how small or large they may be. In other words, if you allow yourself mental flexibility and break down the rigid constraints of your world, you are more likely to encounter the positive in life rather than the negative because you are open to new possibilities.

The black and white of it – you have to start somewhere. Sometimes that means reinventing yourself, sometimes it is following a dream, and sometimes it is the willingness to venture into areas that are out of your comfort zone. The point is, you have to try or you will never know. If it is a new job you are pursuing, keep your mind open by learning new skills and by applying for positions that you might otherwise pass by. Or if this is the year that you plan on writing a book, then do it. You don’t have to write a best-selling novel, but you at least have to get the ball rolling by starting with the first sentence. If you are looking for a new relationship whether personal or business wise, take the first step and say hello to that person, if you are looking to end one, take that first step in saying goodbye.

Whatever it is for you, no matter how large or small the goal, just be kind to yourself and others. And remember that it is okay to have failures, it is okay to say no, and it is okay to take time for you. Life is fleeting and we don’t get a rewind button so we need to make the most out of each moment we are blessed to have. And sometimes the greatest moments and personal victories we have are those that are the simplest – a good book, a warm cup of coffee, and a cat snuggled on our lap to cleanse the mind and soul…

10 Basic Tips to Generate Blog Traffic and Keep Your Readers Engaged


As the year winds down, as they say, out with the old and in with the new. This certainly applies to the Cat Writers’ Association as we move forward with a fresh and updated looking website that includes a blog. For many of us writers, a blog was nothing but a four letter word and not an entity to be taken seriously. Fast forward to today and nothing could be further from the truth. Blogs are a bona-fide mainstay method of communication that can be used in an engaging, informative, entertaining, or educational way to promote the health, happiness, and well-being of cats.

Blogs come in a range of writing styles – from cats writing as themselves in their own kitty language to serious blogs written by esteemed authors, veterinarians, and the like. The tendency towards loose structured content and the prevalent misuse of the English language in blogs is a topic in and of itself, but suffice it to say, if you do decide you want to join the minions of bloggers out there, it is serious business and requires time and dedication to make it work.

Much as we would like instant accolades for all the blood, sweat, and tears we put into a blog post, the reality is that unless you are willing to extend yourself, your primary readership will be a couple of family members, a few friends, and lots and lots of crickets. Frustrating and disillusioning to say the least. But all is not lost – with some basic guidelines and perseverance, you can write and maintain a popular and successful blog:

  1. The content needs to be compelling with a strong and grammatically correct headline. There are only so many ways to talk about spay/neuter, for example, so try to think of a new angle to entice people to read your article.
  2. Understand that it is not all about you. Don’t expect people to comment on your blog without taking the time to comment on theirs if they have one. Blogging is a social venue and proper etiquette deems it a two way street. Share posts that are relevant to your own readers on sites such as Facebook or Twitter. Reciprocation goes a long way towards future success.
  3. Blogging is not a one-time writing assignment. It is a recurring commitment – depending on your schedule and type of blog, it could be anywhere from once a day to a couple times a week. Your readers will become accustomed to your schedule and to help keep them on track, it is a good idea to provide an email sign up for them so they can be notified of new posts.
  4. Use pictures. They can instantly can make a blog post more compelling and people are more inclined to share posts with pictures on Facebook and other social venues.
  5. Search Engine Optimization. It’s as simple as it sounds – when you write your post, make sure to include key words relevant to the topic in both the title and the content so that if someone is searching for information on how get rid of fleas, for example, your post will come up in their search and direct them to your blog if that’s what you wrote about.
  6. Blogs don’t just have to be about writing. Sharing videos in a post can often tell a story or offer solutions to a problem much more effectively than words and they are very popular with readers.
  7. Be creative and fun – we meet a lot of sponsors at the Cat Writers’ Conference and they love to have us blog about their products. As long as it does not interfere with any personal ethics you have on the product, see if you can offer a giveaway or host a contest – it is a great way to drive traffic and the sponsors appreciate the support.
  8. Take advantage of what you already do. If you are a published author or a contributing writer for a magazine or newspaper, don’t be shy about letting your readers know you have a blog. If they are already fans of yours, chances are high that they would happily follow you in a blog.
  9. Be yourself. There is nothing worse than a blog that doesn’t have a genuine voice and you will lose readers if they don’t believe in you. Good writing is a gift, skill, and talent. Use your blog to keep those skills sharp – your readers will keep coming back that way.
  10. Be the expert in your field – if your niche is cat behavior, then write the best posts you can about cat behavior. As members of the Cat Writers’ Association, blogging gives us an incredible opportunity to inform and educate large sectors of the population that we could have never reached years ago.

Bottom line – whatever type of blogger you are or decide to be, be proud of what you do and do it with the same integrity you would any writing assignment. We have the power to change the cat world as we know it with our blogs and if you build it, they will come…